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Curley Collins:

A Guide to His Collection at Georgia State University Library

Georgia State University
Georgia State University Library
Special Collections and Archives
100 Decatur St., SE
Atlanta, GA 30303-3202
Fax: 404-413-2881

December 19, 2007

Profile Description

Creation: EAD version 2002 finding aid created in XMetaL 4.5 by Bill Hardesty, December 19, 2007.
Language: English

Collection Summary

Repository: Georgia State University Library, Special Collections and Archives, Atlanta
Creator:Collins, Curley
Title:Curley Collins collection
Dates: 1928-1956; 1964-1969; 1975-2002
Quantity: .25 linear ft. (in 1 box)
Abstract:Ruey Culbertson ("Curley") Collins (1915-1986) played the fiddle, guitar, and banjo in country and western bands of the 1930s-1980s, in his native Kentucky, Atlanta, Ga., and Richmond, Va. The collection documents his career with ephemera including clippings, programs, and advertisements; photographs; periodical articles and book excerpts; correspondence; legal documents; and writings. The material dates 1928-1956, 1964-1969, 1975-2002, and is in photocopied form.
Identification: M190

Scope and Content of the Collection

The Curley Collins collection documents the musician's career with ephemera including news clippings, programs, and advertisements; photographs; periodical articles and book excerpts; correspondence; legal documents; and writings. The material dates 1928-1956, 1964-1969, 1975-2002, though all items in the collection are in photocopied form. The collection contains correspondence with music historian Wayne Daniel including a questionnaire Collins completed, as well as copies of several published pieces by Daniel that discuss Collins and the musicians with whom he worked.

With the exception of the first folder, Phillip G. Collins organized the collection and assigned folder titles.

Biography of Curley Collins

Ruey Culbertson (Curley) Collins (1915-1986) played the fiddle, guitar, and banjo in country and western bands of the 1930s-1980s. Born near Catlettsburg in eastern Kentucky, Curley Collins was the son of Neal (Pop) Collins, well-known locally as a musician, and Maggie McKnight Collins. He learned to play the banjo from his father and joined the family band. At age 14, Collins joined a professional group called the Mountain Melody Boys, and later formed a second group, the Prairie Pals, with a brother and friends. The bands performed on radio stations in Huntington, West Virginia and Ashland, Kentucky. Popular bandleader Garner "Pop" Eckler invited the Prairie Pals to join his group, which he renamed Pop Eckler and His Young'uns. Eckler's Covington, Kentucky-based band appeared on WLW in Cincinnati, and, in 1936, relocated to Atlanta to become featured performers on WSB Radio's "Cross Roads Follies." Pop Eckler and His Young'uns received national exposure through the NBC network and performed variety shows throughout the Southeast, in which Curley Collins sang and danced as well as playing the guitar, banjo, and fiddle. In 1938, Collins won the National Fiddlers' Contest, held at Municipal Auditorium in Atlanta. Eckler and his band relocated to Wheeling, West Virginia in about 1942 and then broke up.

Following Army service during World War II, Collins joined Jack Gillette's Tennessee Ramblers, a group that included musicians with whom he had worked on WSB, among them singer/yodeler Benny Kissinger. The band performed on radio in Wheeling and Richmond, Virginia. After the Tennessee Ramblers split up in 1946, Collins and Kissinger formed a duo act. As "Benny and Curley" they were featured for years on the "Old Dominion Barn Dance" show on WRVA Radio (Richmond, Virginia), heard nationally on the CBS network. After "Barn Dance" went off the air in the mid-1950s, Collins worked full-time as a warehouse foreman, though he performed occasionally. After retiring from his non-music job in 1979, Collins renewed his career with Kissinger. Finding an appreciative regional audience for their old-time music, the pair appeared at "Old Dominion Barn Dance" reunions, festivals, and at "Lil' Ole Opry" shows in Hudgins, Virginia. In 1981, the duo recorded an album in Nashville. Collins also played fiddle with the band Shades of Country.

Collins received a number of honors, including being named a Kentucky Colonel (1983) and election to the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame (1984). Posthumously, he was elected to the Old Dominion Barn Dance Hall of Fame (1991) and received the Founders Award from the Atlanta Country Music Hall of Fame (2006). Curley Collins was married four times and had six children. He remained an active performer until he passed away in 1986.

Index Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the Georgia State University Library online catalog (GIL). Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons, or places should search the catalog using these headings.

Collins, Curley--Archives
Daniel, Wayne W., 1929-
Eckler, Pop
Kissinger, Benny
WRVA (Radio Station : Richmond, Va.)
WSB (Radio station : Atlanta, Ga.)
Country music--Georgia--Atlanta--1931-1940
Country music--Virginia--Richmond
Country musicians--Kentucky


Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access. All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

To quote in print, or otherwise reproduce in whole or in part in any publication, including on the Worldwide Web, any material from this collection, the researcher must obtain permission from (1) the owner of the physical property and (2) the holder of the copyright. Persons wishing to quote from this collection should consult the reference archivist to determine copyright holders for information in this collection. Reproduction of any item must contain the complete citation to the original.

Administrative Information


[item], [folder title], Curley Collins Collection, M190, Popular Music Collection. Special Collections and Archives, Georgia State University, Atlanta.

Acquisition Information

Donated by Phillip G. Collins, September 2003.

Processing Information

Processed by William Hardesty, December 2007.

Related Material

Related materials in other repositories:

Curley Collins Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond

WRVA Radio Collection, Library of Virginia, Richmond

Related materials in this repository:

Tex Forman Papers, Popular Music Collection

Wayne W. Daniel, Pickin' on Peachtree: A History of Country Music in Atlanta, Georgia (Urbana, 1990)

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